Thursday, August 14, 2014

Irish ladies in line for a 3/4 finish, and the Rugby Championship starts!

 Fiona Coghlan, Lynne Cantwell, Marie Louise Reilly and Gillian Bourke are all included.

Things went pretty pear shaped for Ireland on Tuesday at the Stade Jean Bouin, the home stadium of Stade Français, as they fell to heavy defeat to England, after opening the scoring. Not having watched the match, but picking up scraps on social media and the radio, it sounds like our scrum came under massive pressure, as did our midfield defence. History was against us – we’ve only beaten England once now in 22 attempts. It still means we can’t finish worse than 4th, which is not too shabby at all. But when you look at what they’ve done for women’s rugby in Ireland, putting it on the front page and on the TV, when you look at the great role models and ambassadors that they are for Ireland, I don’t see too much defeat here. Sure it would have been unbelievable to win the World Cup, but hey, that’ll be in four years’ time! When you look at the self-sacrifice of these amateurs-playing-like-professionals, taking time off work to participate, putting themselves in real physical danger, no wonder they’ve inspired the country. They get to play France on Sunday for 3rd place, I’d say bronze medals all round would have been more palatable, but still the chance for a bit more success. 
In the other semi, Canada squeezed past France in front a big, partisan crowd, to set up a rematch of their pool encounter.

Also this weekend is the little matter of the clunkily named Rugby Championship. Top class rugby with B- grade branding. The biggest of the two matches is the Bledisloe 1 in Sydney, where the Wallabies hope that the ‘Tahs Super Rugby form carries on into this tournament.  It’s pretty well the Australian team that thrashed France earlier in the year, but the only curveball the selection of Kurtley Beal at 10. I would have gone with Foley and Phipps myself, but maybe Ewan McKenzie can see something we can’t. They are really weak at hooker too. The only surprise for the All Blacks is the inclusion of Ben Smith at 15 for Dagg, I suppose they are not overburdened with hooker resources themselves. Are they both up for this? Are they ever. Hard to look past the Blacks, but the Wallabies aren’t going to die wondering, so it should be pretty close. And the All Black aura in the 7’s, Junior and Women’s game has slipped a bit.

In the other match, South Africa are experimenting a bit with Pollard at 10 and Damien de Allende at 13. This is the Springboks, the backs probably won’t get the ball too much, so not a massive gamble. But if they feel this a match to experiment in, I’d have loved to see Sharks 9 Cobus Reinach given a shot. Much as I respect Pienaar, and know what Hougaard bring to the party, neither of them brings the tempo that du Preez does, or has his crisp accurate passing. The Pumas haven’t pulled too many surprises. They haven’t played together much this year, so I think the Boks will notch this one up.

13 Aug 2014
13/08 - 14:00 South Africa  25 - 24  Samoa
13/08 - 15:45 New Zealand  63 - 7  Wales Stade Jean Bouin
13/08 - 16:15 Spain  18 - 5  Kazakhstan
13/08 - 18:00 Ireland  7 - 40  England Stade Jean Bouin
13/08 - 18:30 Australia  20 - 23  USA
13/08 - 20:45 France  16 - 18  Canada Stade Jean Bouin

17 Aug 2014
17/08 - 12:00 Samoa   -   Kazakhstan 
17/08 - 14:00 South Africa   -   Spain
17/08 - 14:15 USA   -   New Zealand Stade Jean Bouin
17/08 - 16:00 Australia   -   Wales
17/08 - 16:30 Ireland   -   France Stade Jean Bouin
17/08 - 18:45 England   -   Canada Stade Jean Bouin

Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 16
Australia vs New Zealand 11:05
South Africa vs Argentina 16:05

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